Establishing rapport in structured interviews

Establishing rapport in structured interviews

Structured, formal interviews can be a daunting prospect. Establishing rapport with your interviewer(s) is a key strategy to settle your nerves and enhance the experience for both parties.

What is rapport and why is it beneficial?

Rapport can have a broad range of definitions such as conversational ease, a feeling of connection, or mutual comfort (Bell et al., 2014). When boiled down to its simplest essence, rapport is about being on the same page as another person.

With rapport comes a conversation that is more relaxed and authentic. Segal & Hersen (2008) outlines that this added comfort is beneficial for both parties in an interview. Establishing rapport with your interviewer will make them feel respected and more generally positive about the interaction. Additionally, it will help ensure that you are actively hearing and understanding what is being discussed (Martin, 2024).

Not convinced? A 2006 study (Kerekes) identified a number of trends for successful candidates. As well as typically having strong language skills and work experience, another key feature shared by successful candidates is their ability to establish rapport with an interviewer.

Extroverted vs. Introverted

Finding common ground with your interviewer(s) provides a strong basis from which you can build rapport (Martin, 2024). Extroverts are typically successful in establishing rapport in this way, as their well-developed verbal skills help them to quickly discover mutual interests (Barick et al., 2012).

However, extroverts don’t have all the advantages. Active listening is another vital part of establishing rapport with others, and extroverted individuals are often judged to be worse listeners (Flynn et al., 2023). Helgoe (2013) attributes this to the fact that introverts tend to process information internally, allowing them to provide a carefully constructed response.

To demonstrate active listening, give your full attention to the other person and avoid fixating on what you plan to say next. Using nonverbal communication will also shape how you are perceived as a listener. Positive body language such as nodding along, leaning in, smiling and making eye contact will show you are engaged in the conversation (Martins, 2024). When it feels appropriate, you can also use subtle sounds of agreement to demonstrate understanding but avoid interrupting (Martins, 2022).

Need more tips to prepare for your upcoming interview? Give our office a call and let’s chat!


Barrick, M. R., Dustin, S. L., Giluk, T. L., Stewart, G. L., Shaffer, J. A., & Swider, B. W. (2012). Candidate characteristics driving initial impressions during rapport building: Implications for employment interview validity. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology85(2), 330-352.

Bell, K., Fahmy, E., & Gordon, D. (2016). Quantitative conversations: the importance of developing rapport in standardised interviewing. Quality & quantity50, 193-212.

Flynn, F. J., Collins, H., & Zlatev, J. (2023). Are you listening to me? The negative link between extraversion and perceived listening. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin49(6), 837-851.

Helgoe, L. A. (2013). Introvert power: Why your inner life is your hidden strength. Sourcebooks, Inc.

‌Martins, J. (2024, January 9). 6 ways to build rapport and develop meaningful relationships. Asana.

Martins, J. (2022, October 27). Listening to understand: How to practice active listening (with examples) asana. Asana.

Segal, D. L., & Hersen, M. (2008). Diagnostic interviewing. Handbook of clinical psychology1, 371-394.

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